Sunday, February 27, 2005


Like Water for Chocolate--An Update

This book wasn't as painful to teach as I had feared, since almost all of my students complained that they were being asked to read something that basically compared to a soap opera, something I noticed pretty quickly as well. Thus we were able to discuss the book's shortcomings, and many students expressed the opinion that the book was on the list thanks to affirmative action, saying if it had been written by whomever wrote Bridget Jones's Diary, it would not have been assigned, and that it truly belonged on that table that Border's puts out every summer with all the "chick" books on it. (Which always puzzles me--do women have the summer off, or something? Was this some feminist victory of which men have been left unaware? She says she's going to work on those lazy July mornings . . . )

Anyway, from Esquivel we moved to two books with very Marxist leanings, and the students picked up on that, as well. We actually had some good discussions about the left-leaning nature of the reading list for this course, as well as ways in which a reader can pick up subtle bias. A couple of very left students were a bit disgruntled, but I gave some examples of right-wing bias to show that it existed as well, though not in any of the books on our reading list.

This has led to some interesting discussions regarding the course itself, but I'm not sure what effect they will have on future versions of the course, if any. The students are comfortable talking with me, but if I suggest that they talk with someone in charge, they become quite reluctant to continue speaking. Still, I tell them they're paying a buttload to go here, so they should voice their concerns. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

I would, of course, be far more specific about which books we're reading and what I'm supposed to be doing with them, but I'm 99% sure that doing so would reveal where I work, so I have to be vague about some of this stuff. The course and the reading list aren't necessarily unique, but what this university has chosen to do with the idea is, so it wouldn't take one of my colleagues more than a minute or so to figure out where I worked.

I'm hoping that when the academic year is over, I will be able to talk about it in such a way as to make it sound a bit more generic.

Also, I'll try to blog again in a couple of days with as much of the hiring story as I can tell. Again, it's hard to make these stories have a real impact without giving away the details. But, I'll see what I can do, and I'll bounce them by someone I trust to keep silent.

In the meantime, I intend to start blogging a whole lot more. Hopefully, some of the readership I gained after Erin O'Connor's mentioning of me will start to come back.

Hey--welcome back. The new template looks nice.
Yeah, I was tired of the blue I had for so long, but the lighthouse thing I had for a month or so really didn't make me happy either.

I found this one by Googling "blogger template." Most of the stuff you can get for free is really not up my alley. But, I like this layout, and as I learn more HTML I can play around with it a bit. Maybe I'll replace the "serene" cloud scene with a screencap from Nineteen Eighty-Four--once I but myself a copy of it on DVD.

And then if I were to just blog more, perhaps I can bring this place back to life.

I also need to reconstruct my links, which I lost when I changed to the lighthouse template.
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